The permanent display of the City Museum is located on the 1st floor, in the hallway and seven rooms, and composed of exhibits spanning in time from the oldest geological periods to the present day. Each room represents a particular chronological and topical set, and announces the one that follows in the next room.
After we have acquainted ourselves with the natural peculiarities of our region, such as the mineral composition, fossilized inhabitants of the Pannonian Sea, and bones of mammals from the Ice Age, we commence our journey into prehistoric times.
The village of Lasinja in the vicinity of Karlovac has eponymic significance for an entire culture of the Bronze Age. The display features many cave findings, which is not surprising given the number of caves in this area, although some are true rarities – e.g. the Roman necropolis in Bubi’s Cave. Particularly renowned in the world of archeology is a sanctuary from the prehistoric Iron Age – Turska kosa near Topusko. That is the origin of the most abundant (over 500 pieces) Croatian collection of votive clay figurines, mostly of horses with riders.
The construction of the military system on the border between two empires belongs to the national, and thus European canon, with the renaissance six-pointed Star of Karlovac (1579) being the first specimen of this type of new construction.
Karlovac is highly important for the development of modern Croatian identity. This rich merchant city was a place of cultural creativity, especially for the so called “champions” of the revival era in the 19th century. Through their works or personal items, we can get to know the painter Vjekoslav Karas, writer Ivan Mažuranić, explorers the Seljan brothers, and many other “movers and shakers” because of whom present day Karlovac can boast “the first Croatian vocal ensemble”, its own library, printing office, publication of political, economic and literary noteworthy works. The most famous alumnus of the Karlovac Gymnasium is, of course, the inventor and scientist Nikola Tesla (1873).
We get acquainted with the way of life of Karlovac residents whose imaginary salon was also furnished with small master-pieces such as Johann Kraft’s furniture. We learn of the everyday of Karlovac craftsmen and guilds which represented the backbone of both economic and social life, and with their houses gave a particular character to the streets of Karlovac. Karlovac residents were quick to respond not just to coffee shop socializing and new sports, but also to the call of unexplored regions of Africa and South America: in that regard, the travelogue, i.e. illustrated manuscript by Jakov Šašel deserves special mention!
And finally, we learn about the rural life and ethnographic heritage which had always been “within easy reach” of Karlovac, not just in the nearby villages but in its streets and marketplaces. The countryside kept its traditions and its sense of beauty for a long time, and greatly relied on handicrafts all the way until industrialization in the 20th century.